"It doesn't smell of sulfur here anymore," Chavez said in a clear allusion to an earlier insult he foisted on former President George W. Bush from the same podium three years earlier.
"It smells of something else. It smells of hope," he said, referencing Obama's presidential campaign.
Chavez hasn't appeared at the opening session of the U.N General Assembly since calling Bush "the devil" several times during his remarks in 2006.
Chavez spent the first 20 minutes of his speech asserting that a revolution is under way in South America and promoting an Oliver Stone film that depicts his life as well as other South American leaders.
He then began taking political shots at his former rival.
Chavez joked that he hoped no one would throw a shoe at him, a reference to Bush ducking at a shoe hurled at him during a visit to Iraq last year, and laughed that he thought the Cuban official at his U.N. desk was preparing to remove his shoes.
He also joked that he wouldn't speak as long as Libya's strongman Muammar al-Qaddafi, who gave a seemingly endless and rambling diatribe at the world body a day earlier, or any less than President Obama did just prior to Qaddafi.
But Chavez turned serious when he called on Obama to lift a travel embargo to Cuba and extolled and defended the virtues of socialism that he says are responsible for the South American revolution.
And in erratic fashion, Chavez copied Qaddafi, alternating between praise for the U.S. president and questions over his foreign policy. Like Qaddafi he also referenced John F. Kennedy and his assassination, and threw in his hope that God protects Obama from the bullets that killed the late president.